In Conversation with…PUPPET REBELLION

Manchester band, Puppet Rebellion have had quite a meteoritic rise to fame. Going from the new kids on the block to the must-see band in Manchester, and only forming this year. With the help of their début release, the Chemical Friends EP, they have proved that they are here for the long haul  They are the band that everyone’s talking about and rightly so, they are rebellious and it’s refreshing to see this in this day and age, they bring back the heart and soul of Manchester’s music scene in the 90s, which can only be a good thing. Their blend of infectious indie tunes and killer choruses, will undoubtedly have you singing along, “We don’t need you, I don’t believe you!” (The Greatest Lie Ever Told). They just announced this week that they will be releasing their second EP on January 23rd, a date for your dairy, for sure.

I caught up with the band’s frontman, Simon Monaghan, and one of the band’s guitarists, Craig Gibson, to discuss everything from how the band came together to why you should all come to their next gig at The Factory.

How did Puppet Rebellion come to fruition?

SIMON – Puppet Rebellion was born from a frustration that I had in a previous band I was in.  It was like the Management / Money Men wanted a band of Puppets rather than musicians with integrity, who write the music they want to write. I left the band before it ended as I had ideas of my own and wanted to experience taking a band from nothing with no money and making it into something special. I met Chris our drummer in Chile where he was selling string puppets on a stall and after realising he was a top drummer persuaded him to move to the UK.  We then advertised on the internet for the other members and here we are! 

What’s the story behind your band name?

CRAIG – It’s the title of Simon’s favourite episode of the 1980’s kids TV Show ‘Raggy Dolls’.

SIMON – That’s one of the inspirations! I came up with the name as an amalgamation of my frustration at being controlled by people in the past and how I met Chris our drummer.

You only formed this year and you’ve already achieved so much. It must have been such a whirlwind to just hit the scene and gain such a loyal fanbase so quickly.

CRAIG – I would say we have achieved a reasonable amount in the time we have been together, but we are still a long way from where we want to be. It’s certainly nice that so many people are saying such positive things about us though.

SIMON – Yeah we are not happy with making progress.  We want it yesterday.  We are good enough. The amount of fans we have in just 8 months only reinforces our belief that it’s just a matter of time. That many people cannot be wrong can they? (Actually how many fans do One Direction have?).

You released your début EP, Chemical Friends, in June to rave reviews from the media and fans alike. Was it the response you expected?

CRAIG – Well we are confident in our own music, because we are very self-critical throughout the songwriting process. Having said that, it was the first thing we’ve put out there, so there was definitely an element of apprehension for sure. 

SIMON – I expected people to like it because I like it and I like good music. Saying that, it has overwhelmed me how much people do like it. It’s quite humbling really and makes us even more determined to get to the level people expect and hope we achieve.

What’s the story behind the songs on the Chemical Friends EP?

Chemical Friends is about the realisation that certain relationships you have formed in the past were superficial but how some things only become apparent to you in retrospect. 

The Greatest Lie Ever Told is a rejection of the ideas and values of religion, a topic we feel strongly about as a band.

The New Twenty is expressing the opinion that your social life doesn’t have to end because you’ve hit 30. You can still do all the same things you enjoy doing, you don’t have to follow the generic path of ‘settling down’ AKA staying in every night doing nothing.

Is the songwriting process a collaborative effort?

CRAIG – Yes, it’s very much a collaborative process. Myself, Paul & Jim upload initial ideas as private tracks on Soundcloud for the rest of the band to listen to. We then work through the ideas in order of how strong we think they are. The development of each song is different in terms of individual contribution. 

SIMON – I write around 90-95% of the lyrics and around 60% of the melodies but if I get stuck we all chip in.  Craig likes to write the odd lyric when the fancy takes him.  He’s the person that keeps our standards high.

Can we be expecting any new material to be released soon?

We are releasing our second, as yet untitled E.P. on January 23rd.  This will be a 4 track EP, which we will give our fans the choice of downloading for free on Soundcloud (like we did with our first EP) or paying for it using iTunes or one of the many other music mediums out there.

You’re very active on social media, particularly on twitter, interacting with your fans, which I really appreciate. Do you feel it’s important to do this nowadays?

CRAIG – Yes, definitely. There are so many tools now that allow you to interact with people, it is just a case of putting in the effort to do that. 

SIMON – One of the first speeches I gave to Craig when he joined the band was of the importance of social media and interacting with fans. I’m Simon Monaghan and social media was my idea.

You’re live shows prove to be high energy bursts of musical goodness. Having said that, what are your favourite tracks to perform live?

CRAIG – ‘High energy bursts of musical goodness’ haha! What a lovely description. My favourite song to play live is ‘The Greatest Lie Ever Told’.

SIMON – I have three on equal par. Green Eyed Monster, Pirouette & The Greatest Lie Ever Told.

Have you seen a gradual progression in the crowds at gigs getting bigger and bigger?

CRAIG – Simon is Mr head count, so I better not tread on his toes.

SIMON – It really depends on the gig, but yeah they get busier and busier as far as our fans are concerned, but a lot depends on the other bands ability to get people to gigs also.  After the New Year we are going to play less gigs in Manchester and try and make every gig an event in Manchester and ram it out.  We played too many gigs this year, but I suppose it’s been good practice but I want the Puppet Rebellion gigs to be special.  Maybe 6 a year in Manchester maximum. 

You’re upcoming gig at The Factory is going to be really special, featuring some of the best music around today with The Slow Readers Club and Catfish and the Bottlemen also on the bill. If people are still on the fence about whether to come or not, how would you convince them?

CRAIG – I’d probably say something like… ‘hey guys that fence looks really high and dangerous, I’d advise you to carefully climb down. On THIS side’.

SIMON – I’d probably say exactly the same words but in a higher key. 

We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you’d like to share with us?

CRAIG – I like Bipolar Sunshine and Lewis Watson… Simon’s no doubt written a looong super list of new bands he’d love to share with you. We like a good old list.

SIMON – Actually, the only new artists I like are Temples at the moment.  Excited about them.


A special thanks to Puppet Rebellion for the interview and for more info on the band, check out the following links below.

Charlotte Holroyd
Editor, Creator and Founder of Bitter Sweet Symphonies. A lover of music and cinema, who's constantly attending gigs and in search of a great experience.

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